FIRST PODIUM OF SEASON FOR SUGDEN The Spa Francorchamps 1000 kilometre race on Sunday yielded Tim Sugden his first podium of 2006 season racing the Virgo Motorsport Ferrari F430 GTC when he finished third in GT2. This race was his third in a...
FIRST PODIUM OF SEASON FOR SUGDEN
The Spa Francorchamps 1000 kilometre race on Sunday yielded Tim Sugden his first podium of 2006 season racing the Virgo Motorsport Ferrari F430 GTC when he finished third in GT2. This race was his third in a new Ferrari F430 and for the third time he put up the fastest race lap but this time the gap to the second fastest, the winning works Porsche driven as at Istanbul by Mar Lieb, was just 5 thousandth of second.
The race became a battle of strategy as the lead in the 6 hour event alternated between Sugden and his co driver Dan Eagling in the Ferrari and the works backed Autorlando Porsche 996 RSR. The Ferrari led for 62 of the 122 laps while the Porsche led 48 laps but unfortunately an out of sequence stop by the Ferrari to replace a blistering front tyre caused them to have to make an extra stop for a splash of fuel late in the race and a delay at an early stop because of a sticking wheel nut meant that over 2.00 minutes longer was spent in the pits than the Porsche. The extra stop also allowed the works backed Panoz to move up to second even though their fastest race lap was over 1.4 seconds slower than the Ferrari just as it had been in Istanbul.
The Spa circuit is renowned for weather changes and although most of the race was run in dry conditions with just an occasional spot of rain the heavy forest that surrounds the area meant that the track never really dried out as moisture hung between the trees. Sugden had qualified the car on grid 3 running on intermediate tyres, only being beaten by the Porsches of former GT Champion Christophe Bouchut and Tim Bergmeister who both fitted slicks very late in the session. Quickest of the 3 Ferraris in qualifying and quickest overall in 2 of the 3 practice sessions Virgo had high hopes for the race and it was only slight pit stop problems that stopped the team scoring its first international win.
The new Ferrari is proving very fast in Sugden's hands and as reliability improves with experience will prove capable of beating the well established Porsche dominance in GT2 long distance racing. Tim's next race is in the JMB - GruppeM Ferrari at Brno in the Czech Republic on the 28th May.